In a dimly lit video call, Michael Powell sits with his back to a room full of men, a polka dotted mask over the lower part of his face.
“All the necessary precautions are out the window, there are a few dudes in here right now who have fevers that they are not testing, not taking out of here,” Powell, 32, says from inside the Marion Correctional Facility in Ohio. “It’s pandemonium in the pandemic. It’s really, really bad here.”
The call—shared with The Daily Beast by Powell’s friend Kevin Ballou, a former inmate at Marion who has been sounding the alarm locally about prison conditions—took place earlier this month. Ohio prisons were just beginning to ramp up testing for the COVID-19 virus, which has now killed more than 50,000 Americans.